Friday, January 29, 2016

Page 195: Shakespeare speaks!

Having been discovered, the hand behind Hamlet Special Edition responds with a couple of prescient quotes from the Bard:
Triumphs for nothing, and lamenting toys,
Is jollity for apes and grief for boys.
is spoken by Guiderius in Cymbeline, Act IV Secne II. In this context, the passage suggests that critics have reveled in making a big deal out of a trivial fact (the authorship of Hamlet Special Edition). Not only is it a #MonkeyReference, but it also suggests that a jolly time was had at the expense of a bunch of hairless apes.
Joseph Noel Paton illustrated The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (1849) from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
This is followed by Theseus’s lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene I:
More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold.
This passage deals with how there is no single “reality,” that all is subjective, often based upon the biased perceptions of lovers, madmen, poets, et al. This meditation on the malleability of reality reflects the main theme of The Billionth Monkey, and the last line about more devils than vast hell can hold gives us another #DevilReference to boot!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Page 194: A Numerological Guide to Tweezer.Me

On page 194 we see for the first time the url for, which is in reality a microsite dedicated to showing some Destiny Jones status updates that do not appear in The Billionth Monkey. These posts also appear on Destiny Jones’s Facebook page, but on Tweezer I can control the time of the post, the number of likes, and other details for bonus Easter eggs. I held off on discussing the url until this point of the walk-through because the website contains spoilers. As does this post, so if you haven’t read The Billionth Monkey yet you may want to hold off reading this post.

The user icon (photo by steve prue) and cover image for Destiny Jones's Tweezer account.

Here’s a guide to the posts as they appear (i.e., in reverse chronological order):

9:30 on February 27: This post refers to the scene at the Men in Black nightclub (page 184). “Sir” is a term from the leather crowd. Here we find the following numerical Easter eggs:
  • 276 (from 6,276 followers) = עור, leather.
  • 52 (from 52 likes) = MIB, or “Men in Black.”
  • 93 (from 9:30) = the number of times HAL transmits the message “ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS—EXCEPT EUROPA ATTEMPT NO LANDING THEREat the end of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010.
7:18 on February 27: Refers to the lighter on page 190.
  • 31 (from 31 likes) = the path on the Tree of Life attributed to the element of fire.
  • 111 (6,111 followers) = אלף, the letter alef spelled in full, which is attributed to the Tarot card The Fool (i.e., clown).
  • 718 (from 7:18) = The monolith on Jupiter is 718 times larger than the one on the moon, according to Arthur C. Clarke. This is also the number of the hangar whose sensors Rey triggers in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
February 26: This one was posted shortly after her encounter with The Slasher (page 134).
  • 13 (from 13 likes) = אחד, achad, one (i.e. “uni”).
  • 350 (from 4,350 followers) = קרן, qeren, horn (“corn”).
  • 326 (from 3:26) = κερας, keras, horn
February 25: Posted just before Destiny Jones meets Niels Belanger (page 97).
  • 12/06 (from 12:06) is the traditional date of Krampusnacht (Krampus being the person depicted in this post).
  • 15 (from 3,015 followers) = the number of the Tarot card The Devil.
  • 26 (from 26 likes) = the path on the Tree of Life attributed to the Tarot card The Devil. [Since there are 10 sefirot, for clarity the twenty-two netivot or paths are commonly numbered from 11 to 32. The first of the twenty-two Tarot majors is numbered zero...putting the fifteenth card on path 26.]
So this post is a big #DevilReference, and also kind of foreshadowing.

January 1: Destiny gets invited skiing in Wyoming. (See conversation on page 102).
  • 65 (from 65 likes) = ניה = NYE, i.e. New Year’s Eve.
  • 114 (from 1:14) = בהן (thumb) x 2 i.e. “who has two thumbs?”
December 24: A reference to Christmas is yet to come in the story (page 251).
  • 310 = שי, gift or tribute
  • 495 = מטנה, gift
  • 61 = אין, ain, not…a homonym and bad pun for “knot.”
December 5: This paper is later referenced on page 209.
  • 56 (from 56 likes) = אימה, emah, horror
  • 606 (from 6:06) = פלצות, pallatsuth, horror or fright
Readers of Perdurabo may recall that December 5 was the date of Aleister Crowley’s funeral in 1947.

December 1: We know from page 101 that Destiny’s mother is a painter.
  • 52 (from 52 likes) = אימא, mother.
  • 42 (from 6:42) = אמא, mother
  • 60 (from 2,060 followers) = ס, samekh, the letter attributed to the Tarot card Art.
Readers of Perdurabo may recall that December 1 was the day that Aleister Crowley died in 1947.

November 10: Destiny’s first post on Tweezer.
  • 237 (from 2:37) is the valuation of “Tweezer” transliterated as טוההזהר.
  • 628 (from 1,628 followers) is the valuation of “Tweezer” transliterated as תוההזהר.
  • 31 (from 31 likes) = אל , El, God, and לא, lo, not. Put them together and we get Ello.
November 10 is also a meaningful date for me.

Finally, the sidebars at contain a few self-referential goodies. On the left, we have the following trending topics, which I call Tweezer Pleasers:
  • Deepwater Lemuria Trial (mentioned on page 79)
  • Bog Snorkelling (see page 16)
  • French Quarter Shooter (see page 88 et al.)
  • Hamlet Special Edition (first mentioned on page 128).
Meanwhile on the right we have the following "sponsored" (though they're not really sponsored) ads:
  • Hamlet Special Edition graphic novel (special supplement to the book, or free online at Stanley's Marvelous Comics)
  • Godco Insurance (first mentioned on page 18)
  • The Billionth Monkey
  • Ham Stabbeth First t-shirts (mentioned on page 129) and other merchandise that you can actually buy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Page 192–4: Weiner gematria, plus the true story behind Area 54

The reference on page 192 to Area 54 is based on a true story. I attended a professional dinner in Las Vegas one evening, after which a bunch of us piled into an SUV limo to take us back to our hotel. Someone joked about driving out to Area 54, and I couldn’t stop laughing. Unlike Belanger, I didn’t point out the error. We were having a good time, so why be a 8===D?

Which brings us to Destiny Jones’s Tweezer posts.

The first post on page 193 contains:
  • 78 (from 78 likes) = the number of cards in a Tarot deck. Not that this post has any connection to the Tarot reading in Chapter 1, or the Tarot at all, but it was an unused number in the ballpark that I needed for this post.
  • In addition, disco transliterated as דסחו enumerates to 78.
  • 831 (from 7,831 likes) = φαλλος, phallus.
The second post on page 193 contains:
  • 85 (from 85 likes) = פח, the Hebrew letter Peh spelled in full; in the Western esoteric tradition, this letter is attributed to the planet Mars, whose symbol ♂ has clear connections to 8===D and 8=D.
  • 85 is also מילה, circumcision.
Finally, the post on page 195 gives us:
  • 304 (from 304 likes) = רקד, to dance.
  • 1,040 (from 10:40) = χορος, a chorus.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Page 191: Female Fan Communities

In this scene from The Billionth Monkey, Niels Belanger feels stereotyped by Destiny Jones and defensively argues that SFF fandom isn’t all-male by rattling off a list of nicknames for various female fan communities. Can you tell the actual names from the ones I made up? The real ones have URLs in their names linking to a relevant site.
  • Estrogen Brigades: an actual term referring to the trope of a group of female fans within a normally male-dominated fandom.
  • Twihards: fans of the Twilight books and films.
  • Cumberbitches: Female fans of Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Beanstalkers: The Sean Bean fangirl community.
  • Hiddlestoners: Fans of actor Tom Hiddleston
  • Bamber Bunnies: Fans of Jamie Bamber, who portrayed Lee Adama in the 2000 reboot of Battlestar Galactica.
  • Spiner Femmes: Fans of Brent Spiner, who portrayed Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Debbie Downeys: Fictional fans of Morton Downey Jr. (Iron Man).
  • Gimli’s Girls: Fictional fans of John Rhys-Davies, who portrayed Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  • Shatnerds: Fictional fans of William Shatner, famous as Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk.
  • Sereni-T&As: Fictional fans of Joss Whedon’s TV show Firefly, and its subsequent movie Serenity.
  • JAG Hags: Fictional fans of the TV show Judge Advocate General. Not very sci-fi/fantasy, I wonder if there’s an actor with initials JAG and I’ve forgotten my own joke.
  • Hobbettes: Fictional fans of The Hobbit.
  • Jason Stackhussies: Fictional fans of Ryan Kwanten, who portrayed Jason Stackhouse in the HBO series True Blood. (Bonus trivia: I kinda-sorta imagined Nicholas Young looking something like a young Jason Stackhouse.)
  • V’s for Vendetta: Fictional fans of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.
I basically had Belanger roll out a bunch of actual terms from fandom--all of which are punny to begin with--then switched over to fictional ones to take it over the top.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Page 185–9: A Quartet of References

The promotor fidei (Promoter of the Faith) or advocatus diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) was originally a Roman Catholic canon lawyer appointed by the church to skeptically oppose a candidate for canonization. The term “devil’s advocate” came to refer to generally to someone who takes an opposing view for the sake of challenging and improving the original idea. In the context of The Billionth Monkey, it’s also a #DevilReference.

Cover for the motion picture soundtrack to Devil's Advocate (1997).
“Little sunshine” on page 186 is a reference that readers of Perdurabo may recognize. It’s my favorite anecdote about Aleister Crowley. In 1934, he tried unsuccessfully to sue former student Nina Hamnett for alleging that he practiced black magic; when the defense challenged him to explain why he calls himself “The Great Beast 666,” Crowley explained that the number is simply that of the sun, and if counsel preferred they could refer to him instead as “Little Sunshine.” Not only is the remark hilarious, Crowley was also being serious: The number of the sun in the Western esotericism is traditionally 6, as are its extensions 62 and Σ(1-62)…or in other words a 6x6 magic square, and the sum of all the numbers within that magic square. This occult understanding flies in the face of popular conceptions of the number 666, which is why the juxtaposition of The Great Beast and Little Sunshine is so funny. Because of the associations of 666 in the popular mind (e.g., through movies like 1976’s The Omen), I count this as a #DevilReference.

A hair-raising moment from The Omen [image source: The Omen Wiki].
Nicholas Young’s dialogue on page 186 is part-inspired by the hit song “A Criminal Mind” from Canadian musician Lawrence Gowan’s Strange Animal record. When the album came out in 1985, my buddy TJ and I drove to Windsor, Ontario, from the states to buy it because copies were unavailable back home. (Bear in mind this was before the World Wide Web, and CDs were still a relatively new format.) I always thought the chorus was chilling; a paraphrased version worked perfectly in this scene. It’s also a sort of replay of Young’s “Do you know who I am?” schtick. Anyway, Gowan is a wonderful songwriter and musician, and currently fills the keyboardist role in the band Styx. If you don’t know Gowan’s material, check it out!

Music video for Gowan's "A Criminal Mind" (1985).

Let’s wrap this up by looking at Destiny Jones’s Tweezer post on page 189. Given the subject matter, there wasn’t a lot to do here numerologically, so I just snuck in the number 165, which is the numeration of the city “Babylon”: another shout-out to readers of Perdurabo.

Music video for David Gray's "Babalon" (1998).

Friday, January 22, 2016

Page 184: Men in Black

Long before they were the name of a hit sci-fi hit comedy, the Men in Black were a fixture in UFO mythology. According to lore, mysterious men clad in black suits and driving an unmarked black car would visit people who have witnessed a UFO…often well before they ever reported their sighting. The purpose of the Men in Black was ostensibly to harass and frighten eye-witnesses into silence, and—failing that—to discredit their testimony. My favorite portrayal of the Men in Black is beyond a doubt the X-Files episode “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space.’” It’s my absolute favorite episode of the series, and a brilliant send-up of every UFO cliché out there. [As I post this, Fox is preparing to air the first of its six-episode X-Files revival this Sunday: if you watch only one episode to prepare yourself, make it Jose Chung!]

For these reasons, the Men in Black Nightclub seemed like the perfect name for a bar in Roswell. So perfect, in fact, that it has its own Facebook page. You will never find a more wretched hide of bad puns and obscure sci-fi references. Here’s a guide to the entries:
  • February 26: Links to the Hot Tormato website, the band that you read all about in yesterday’s post.
  • February 24: Drink special: the “Lost Time.” This references another key detail of UFO mythology, that those who have had a close encounter with a UFO often report “lost” or “missing” time, that is a period of time that they cannot account for because their memory has been erased or has suppressed the incident.
  • February 22: The Voigt-Kampf machine isn’t a bar game, but actually a device from the movie Bladerunner, Ridley Scott’s classic adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • February 19: “The Band Who Fell To Earth” is a pun on the David Bowie-starring film by Nicholas Roeg, The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976).
  • February 17: The “Face Hugger” drink special is a reference to Ridley Scott’s other classic sci-fi film, Alien. I thought that the idea of the face-hugger as a beer-bong was hilarious. Apologies for the crude photoshop work, I promise not to quit my day job.
  • February 12: Triple-breasted ladies’ night is a reference to the movie Total Recall, originally starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (1990), with a 2012 remake featuring the model in this post.
  • February 11: Weekly karaoke contest sponsored by Captain Jack Rum. The sponsor is a fictional pun on Captain Morgan Rum, with the titular pirate replaced by Captain Jack Harkness from the BBC Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood. The background of the label, rather than showing a pirate map, is the floor-plan of the Torchwood Institute in Cardiff. This week’s winner is a reference to my wife, who owns a copy of the sheet music to “Ewok Celebration” from Return of the Jedi…thus proving that I married the right woman.

  • February 10: The White Walker refers to the snow zombies from Game of Thrones i.e. George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Its alternate name, Wampa, refers to the abominable snow creature in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • February 5: The warm-up bands tonight are references to Alien (the planet they land on is LV-426) and its prequel-of-sorts, Prometheus (in which the creators of the human race are called The Engineers).
  • February 4: “Where There’s A Whip” is a song from the Rankin/Bass animated adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King (1980):
  • February 3: The “Soylent Green Mojito” refers to the movie Soylent Green (1973)…which is not made of any of the ingredients in the drink.
  • January 29: The name and logo for Aeroway is supposed to suggest Aerosmith, except Aeroway is the name of the lead character in Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel, Contact (portrayed by Jodi Foster in the 1997 movie adaptation). “Tannhäuser Gate” comes from Rutger Hauer’s classic improvised monologue at the end of Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner. And “All These Worlds” is a reference to the message that HAL transmits 93 times at the end of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010. To the best of my knowledge, none of these are the names of actual bands.
  • January 28: The Brunnen-G fight song comes from the oddball sci-fi television series Lexx.
  • January 27: “Blue skies on Mars” is a reference to the film Total Recall.
  • January 22: Another trio of made-up band names. “Poulsen Treatment” refers to Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. “Barsoom” refers to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fictionalized Mars from his classic John Carter of Mars series. And “Outpost 31” is the name of the Antarctic research center in John Carpenter’s movie The Thing (1982).
  • January 21: This refers to Bill Murray’s classic lounge-singer version of the Star Wars theme song from Saturday Night Live (1978).
  • January 21: Vogon Poetry Slam is a reference to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • January 20: “Brown Coat Stout” refers to Joss Whedon’s Firefly.
  • January 15: “Bennie and the Jets” is from the Elton John song of the same name. The rest are the names of actual bands.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Page 183: Yes tribute band Hot Tormato

Yes tribute band Hot Tormato makes a cameo beginning on page 183 of The Billionth Monkey. Their name is taken from Yes’s 1978 album Tormato, which went to #8 in the UK and #10 in the US. Released during the punk and disco heyday, this album found the band paring down its signature epics into shorter, radio-friendly arrangements that (on reflection) failed to make the best of the seed material. Their highly-acclaimed previous release, Going for the One (1977), was a tough act to follow, and Tormato suffered by comparison. It would prove to be the (temporary) swan-song for singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, both of whom departed soon after the supporting tour. The follow-up album, Drama (1980), found the duo replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles. I personally think this is a brilliant record, but many Yes purists rejected it for lacking two of the band’s most iconic members.

If it isn’t clear, I’m an unabashed fan of prog rock. I’ve played keyboards on several prog rock recordings, and Yes is my favorite prog rock band. Thus, when I started building micro-sites for people and places in The Billionth Monkey, I naturally had to put together a Hot Tomato website to pay homage to Yes.  I’d also like to thank Yes’s publishing company for permitting me to quote the lyrics to “Arriving UFO” from Tormato in The Billionth Monkey. This album came out right when I was discovering prog rock and has a special place in my heart: being able to quote one of the songs was a genuine treat.

Here is a guide to the Yes references and puns found on Hot Tormato’s website:

Banner from the Hot Tormato website.
Home/Main Page
  • Dig it: This popular phrase appears in the single from Tormato, “Don’t Kill the Whale.”
  • You’ll get up and get down: Paraphrases lyrics from the mellow section of “Close to the Edge” (from the album of the same name).
  • Klaatu, Starcastle, Skryvania: Actual band names. Klaatu also gave me permission to quote lyrics from their hit, “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft,” while Starcastle and Skryvania are often described as capturing Yes’s distinctive sound.
  • Stanley Snail: An actual band/project whose name is a mondegreen of a lyric from Yes’s “Siberian Khatru” (which Stanley Snail subsequently covered for the 1995 Yes tribute album, Tales from Yesterday).
  • Master of Soul, Electric Freedom, and Ocean Maid: Fictional band names taken from Yes lyrics to “Awaken,” “Sound Chaser,” and “And You And I,” respectively.
  • Nu sommes du soleil: From “Ritual.”
  • Live for the Pleasure: Pun on a lyric to “Tempus Fugit.” (I hear “live” here as an adjective—as in “live in concert”—rather than a verb as in the original lyric.)
  • It Could Happen To You: From “It Could Happen.”
  • Don’t surround yourself with yourself: From “Your Move.”
Meet the Band
Photos of the band members are all friends of mine who are musicians, fans of prog rock, and who were willing to play along with my crazy scheme. The names are inspired by the musician from Yes whose role they emulate in Hot Tormato:
  • Anders Jønsson: Pretty straightforward Nordic spoonerism of lead vocalist Jon Anderson (photo by Sandra Buskirk).
  • Rick. N Bocker: Yes bassist Chris Squire is famous for his unique and masterful bass lines, played on a Rickenbacker bass guitar.
  • Yves Whye: A French extrapolation of guitarist Steve Howe.
  • Nick Wickerman: Referencing keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, with Yes t-shirt, keytar, and conspicuous rock-and-roll-special-effects fan.
  • Bro Billfold: A sort of spoonerism of drummer Bill Bruford.
  • Lou “Shifty” Ayas: The name is a pun on an alias of the guy in this photo, who also happened to be a roadie for the band Starcastle. Note the hand-made t-shirt for the fictional band “Starcaster,” recalling merch that Starcastle had back in the day.
News Is Captured
The name of the news tab refers to the lyrics to “Your Move.” These Hot Tormato news items are intended to recall, on a local scale, historical moments for the band Yes.
  • 18 May: This refers to the big news of Rick Wakeman joining the Yes lineup. It was a front-page story in the August 21, 1971, Melody Maker with the headline “New Yes Man.” Here, we have Melody Faker and “New Yes Fan.” The photo of Nick Wickerman shows him with a different keytar than in his “Meet the Band” photo, and also depicts him wearing a cape…something for which his namesake, Rick Wakeman, was well-known. “Cody Taye” is based on a spoonerism of “Tony Kaye,” the keyboardist that Wakeman replaced. The story going around for many years was that Tony preferred piano and organ to newfangled analog synthesizers, so the members of Yes brought in someone who was willing to broaden their sonic palette by using all manner of keyboard instruments…and boy did he! Wakeman was known for performing while surrounded with an arsenal of instruments. The Hot Tormato news story updates this for the 21st century by referencing prog metallers Dream Theater, whose keyboardist Jordan Rudess managed to buck this trend through clever management of a single keyboard (plus a bunch of outboard gear). “Late of Summerisle” refers to the fictional town in which the movie The Wicker Man (1973) takes place, and to which Nick Wickerman is also a reference. Just as Rick Wakeman attended the Royal College of Music, Nick Wickerman attended the Roswell College of Music. Yes, I am a keyboard nerd.
  • 25 October: The headline “Drum Machine Messiah” is a pun on the phrases “Drum Machine” and the Yes song “Machine Messiah.” “Waylan Hyatt” is an approximate rhyme/spoonerism for Alan White, the one-time session drummer who replaced the Yes drum throne previously occupied by Bill Bruford. He famously had to step in and play the complex arrangements live with very little rehearsal time before the band’s world tour. “Close to the edge” refers to the song of the same name. Some critics have responded to Yes’s ongoing personnel changes by calling them a band with a built-in revolving door; with Hot Tormato, this analogy has been updated for the 21st century to a “refresh button.” “Hold On” references the song of the same title. The last couple of sentences echoes the typical sort of statement that Yes or its spin-offs would use whenever there was a personnel change. The illustration shows a fictional solo album Rambunctious, modeled after Alan White’s solo album Ramshackled.
  • 4 March: “Silly Human Race” refers to the lyrics to “Yours Is No Disgrace.” This news item refers to the time that ex-members of Yes regrouped under their own names as Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. (Hence Emerson, Bickers, Yakov, and Mau…whose acronym spells MAYBE backwards). The bass guitar seat was filled by session ace Tony Levin (hence the news item’s reference to “a ton of leavening”). The then-current members of Yes quarreled with ABWH for calling their concerts “An Evening of Yes Music Plus.” (Hence “An Espresso with a Slice of Hot Tormato.”) Ready Eddy’s Coffeehouse is a reference to audio engineer Eddy Offord, who lent a creative spin to many of Yes’s recording sessions; he also worked with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, whose song “Are You Ready, Eddy?” pays tribute to him. The graphic accompanying this news story uses a font reminiscent of the ABWH record.
  • 8 April: “Soul Receiver” refers to the lyrics to “Gates of Delirium.” After the ABWH incident, fans came to see there being two different Yeses: Those touring as Yes were Yes West, for their headquarters in Los Angeles, while ABWH was Yes East. (Hence “A simple misunderstanding of compass directions.”) Jon Anderson and the management brokered a treaty between the two camps, resulting in an album and tour called Union. Hence Hot Tormato’s show is called “Unison.” (The illustration accompanying the story is a friendly pun on the album cover.) “Travel very far” is a reference to the lyrics to “Yours Is No Disgrace.”
  • 17 May: “Grumpy Old Man” refers to keyboardist Rick Wakeman going on to a new phase of his career has a regular contributor to the BBC Two program Grumpy Old Men (he appeared in six episodes). The story itself refers to Rick Wakeman’s unpleasant reaction to first hearing the unsatisfactory Union record; why it was unsatisfactory is a long story, but he chucked the cassette out his car window and dubbed the album Onion because it was so bad it made him cry. In the 21st century, Nick Wickerman listens to MP3s of the Unison rehearsals, chucks his iPhone out the car window, and proclaims the music to be “Confusion.”
This Place
The name of the links to other sites page refers to the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe lyrics to “Birthright.” Here we find links to the Men in Black nightclub where Hot Tormato are the house band; an ironic link to The Billionth Monkey, touting their cameo appearance; and I really mean it when I include a link to the official website of “our musical heroes.” And, of course, the disclaimer at the end makes it clear that Hot Tormato is not endorsed by me!


This post seems to be as good a place as any to opine about what, in my mind, constitutes the contentious definition of progressive rock. Among fans there’s a debate between those who insist that the term means to constantly “progress” and push the envelope into new territory, and those who enjoy music that draws inspiration from and emulates (to varying degrees) the stylistic hallmarks of the genre’s 1970s heyday. To the former group, when bands like Yes deliver new music in the style that they pioneered, they cease to “progress”…in contrast, for example, to a band like King Crimson, which is constantly reinventing itself.

To my mind and ear, what prog rock did in the 1970s—and what I personally like about it—was to greatly expand the potential vocabulary of rock and roll by:
  1. Incorporating the extended voicings and non-diatonic tonalities of jazz, classical, and world music rather than the basic root-plus-fifth power chords and 12-bar blues chord progressions common in classic rock, 
  2. Using different song structures than verse-chorus, sometimes drawing upon the extended structures of classical music and other song cycles, 
  3. Expanding the sonic palette by introducing instruments not normally heard in rock-and-roll, from synthesizers to nylon string guitars to flutes to vibraphones, 
  4. Breaking out of the standard 4/4 and occasional 3/4 time signatures and introducing the feel of asymmetric, or even quickly-changing, meters, much like the Dave Brubeck Quartet did for jazz with Time Out (1959).
  5. Shamelessly plundering and incorporating the feel of other genres, whether it be jazz, classical, folk, or world music. I especially like vocal harmonies taken from folk music, and the contrapuntal possibilities of groups like Gentle Giant and Spock’s Beard.  Note that prog records like Patrick Moraz’s The Story of I (1975) and Manfred Mann’s Somewhere in Afrika (1983) used Brazilian and African percussion before it hit the mainstream with Paul Simon’s Graceland (1986). [Of course, world music had been used in pop and rock pre-1986, including Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion.”]
  6. Finding lyrical inspiration outside of the love songs that dominate so much of rock-n-roll. (Sometimes this has resulted in clichés like Tolkien rock, or completely abstract or indecipherable lyrics.)
These are the elements that I enjoy in prog rock music both old and new. Or just music (I confess to really liking Shakira’s “Rejection Tango” when it came out because it threw everything from accordion to a B-52s vibe into the sonic blender). Prog was a statement that basically threw out the rulebook for rock and made a mongrel or melting pot of everything out there. And for that reason, I see nothing wrong with groups who gravitate to certain sounds or instruments that the genre defined…so long as it isn’t pure mimicry. This is my take on it; your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Page 182: Numerological Easter eggs

Since there no kabbalistic terms for either Annie Oakley or Michael Keaton, I had to get creative with the Easter eggs in the post on page 182. We have:
  • 131 (from 131 “likes”) = ⲡⲛⲁ (Coptic), spirit = θαομαι, “to wonder at” or “to gaze at a spectacle” = Παν, Pan (the Greek God, lit. “all”)
  • 718 (from 5,718 followers) = μορφη, form, shape, or appearance.
The number 718 also makes appearances in popular sci-fi:
  • In Arthur C. Clarke’s novels 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: Odyssey Two, the monolith TMA-2 found orbiting Jupiter is 718 times larger than the one found on the moon (TMA-1).
The monolith's iconic first appearance in 2001: A Space Odyssey
[©1968 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, dir. Stanley Kubrick].
  • In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rey triggers the sensors in hangar 718.
Readers of Perdurabo may know of other associations with this number.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Page 180: Bloody Mary

With just a little bit of folk magic, you too can conjure a vengeful spirit right into your bathroom! All it takes is a mirror, darkness, and perhaps a few lit candles. Stare into the mirror—if you dare—and chant her name: Bloody Mary. Or Mary Worth, Mary Johnson, Mary Lou, etc. After you say the name the appropriate number of times (three, thirteen, etc.), she will spring forth from the mirror and attack you. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

The details of this popular sleepover game vary, including the name of the spirit, what words must be chanted, the requisite number of repetitions, the paraphernalia necessary for the evocation, and what fate befalls the unfortunate person who deems to summon her. But generally speaking, if done right, not only is the spirit supposed to appear, but it will reach out and scratch you or otherwise draw blood.

Alan Dundes offers a Freudian take on this rite of passage for young teens. He asserts that it symbolizes the life-changing event of menarche: the game is usually played by girls, it involves blood, and is invariably set in a bathroom…you can see where this is going. The mirror represents a kind of self-identification with Bloody Mary.

The idea of chanting a name to cause a spirit to appear is hardly new. The phrase “speak of the devil” testifies to this, as does the corpus of the medieval grimoire tradition in Western ceremonial magic. There’s also the Bloody Mary spin-off game, “Baby Blue.” More recently, this trope has appeared in movies from Beetlejuice (1988) to Candyman (1992). And if things get too scary, you can always click your heels together and say three times, “There’s no place like home.”


Anonymous. “Bloody Mary.” October 27, 2005.

Jan Harold Brunvand. “I Believe in Mary Worth.” In Encyclopedia of Urban Legends (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001), 205–6.

Francisco Vaz Da Silva. “Review: Bloody Mary in the Mirror.” Journal of American Folklore 2004, 117(464): 216–7.

Alan Dundes. “Bloody Mary in the Mirror: A Ritual Reflection of Pre-Pubescent Anxiety.” Western Folklore 1998, 57(2/3): 119–35.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Page 178: The call is coming from inside the house

This popular urban legend among babysitters tells how one of their own, while on the job, began receiving threatening phone calls in which the caller claims to have murdered the children and would be coming for her next. Too terrified to check on the children, she instead phones the police, who advise her to keep the caller on the line next time so that they can trace the call. Once she does, she receives another urgent call from the police, telling her to leave immediately because the call is coming from inside the house. The story struck enough of a chord that it was turned into the 1979 movie, When A Stranger Calls.
Today's urban legend inspired the 1979 movie When a Stranger Calls and its remake 27 years later (2006).

Harkening to the pre-cell phone era, this urban legend would require that the home in question have two separate telephone numbers.[Or maybe not: evidently there are tricks to dialing your own number from a rotary phone.]  But urban legends deal with fears, and in this case the fears being played upon involve stepping from adolescence into adult responsibility, failing as a future homemaker, and being dominated by a frightening, aggressive male figure.

Bonus entry: The incident on page 179 involving the lighter and a can of hairspray was literally a dream that I had one night shortly before writing this scene. When I woke up, I thought the dream was hilarious, turning a similar scene in Watchmen on its head. So I decided to use it in The Billionth Monkey. Sometimes my unconscious writes the best material.


Jan Harold Brunvand. “The Baby-sitter and the Man Upstairs.” In Encyclopedia of Urban Legends (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001), 28–9.

Anonymous. “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs.” May 20, 2014.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Page 176: Clown urban legends

As Niels Belanger implies, various urban legends circulate about the most heartwarming yet psychologically disturbing of professions: clowns. Some are quite benign, and some are scary.
The benign legends often involve clowns who are part of a franchise—Bozo or Ronald MacDonald, for example. Because actors in cities around the world have portrayed these characters at local events and live television programs, such legends are difficult to prove or disprove. For example, some tales from the mid-1960s involve bloopers occurring during a Bozo the Clown broadcast either from a foul-mouthed child, or from one of the actors as a result of an open mic gaffe. While this is certainly plausible, Brunvand has identified similar faux pas in older non-clown urban legends, suggesting that the Bozo version is fictional. I’ve also heard stories circulated about actors portraying some famous clown being drunk on-air or at a public appearance. And the Internet is full of claims of Ronald McDonald being arrested.

As for the scary ones: Urban legends are supposed to reflect our fears—and clowns are creepy to a lot of people—so why not?  Perhaps the best-known creepy clown urban legend involves a babysitter who is working for a new couple. At one point the couple check in and the babysitter has two requests: 1) Can she watch television? Sure. 2) Can she throw a blanket over the clown statue, it’s creeping her out. The couple instruct her and the children to get out of the house immediately: they don’t own a clown statue. The police soon arrive and arrest the disguised home invader.

Even more persistent are scares that claim a group of clowns in a van are abducting and murdering children.  Originating in the New England and Midwestern states in 1981 (according to Brunvand),  subsequent flaps were observed in 1985 (Phoenix, AZ) and 1991 (“ranging from New Jersey to Chicago,” Brunvand, p. 314) before crossing the Atlantic to the UK. Whenever these reports are investigated by authorities or the press, they never produce any evidence.

Nevertheless, nothing creeps people out like a clown. One teen in Waukesha, WI, recently discovered that standing around at night in a clown costume gets quite a reaction from the community!

And so we come to The Billionth Monkey, where these legends were simply too good and opportunity to pass up. The names of the clowns we meet on page 177 et seq. are references to other famous clowns:
  • Poundfoolish: The logical counterpart to Pennywise from Stephen King’s novel It (1986). 
Pennywise as portrayed by Tim Curry in the 1990 tv miniseries of Stephen King’s It
[originally broadcast on ABC, distributed by Warner Bros.]
  • Roland MacPoland: Sorta-spoonerism of Ronald MacDonald.
  • No-No: From the phrase “That’s a Bozo no-no,” which is itself an urban legend.
  • Loonibelle: Inspired by Clarabell the Clown from The Howdy Doody Show
Promotion photo of Clarabell the Clown [image source: Wikimedia Commons]
  • Pogo: The real-life scary clown alter-ego of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
  • Pagliouchie: From the Italian opera Pagliacci, and a joke told by Alan Moore’s Rorschach in Watchmen. Here’s the scene from the 2009 film adaptation:

Alas, I couldn’t think of a parody name for that famous clown who is already a parody: Krusty.


Jan Harold Brunvand. “Bozo the Clown’s Blooper.” In Encyclopedia of Urban Legends (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001), 45–6.

Jan Harold Brunvand. “The Phantom Clowns.” In Encyclopedia of Urban Legends (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001), 313–5.

Barbara Mikkelson. “Statue of Limitations.” June 20, 2014.

Barbara Mikkelson. “Cram It, Clown!” August 5, 2007.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Page 174: The elevator incident

In this uniquely American urban legend (even when told in other countries, it usually involves Americans), two or three middle-aged women find themselves riding a resort hotel elevator with an imposing-looking black man and his dog. When the man orders the dog to sit, the ladies drop to the floor thinking they are about to be mugged. Some versions have the ladies drop when asked to “Hit the floor” i.e., press the button on the elevator. Only later do they realize they were riding with a celebrity such as Reggie Jackson or Eddie Murphy, who takes it all with good humor. In some telling someone, the celebrity sends them roses and pays their hotel bill as a thank-you for the best laugh they’ve ever had.

Despite the racist subtext of this legend, Campion-Vincent points out that themes of tolerance and modernity run through this and similar urban legends. Mikkelson argues that urban legends tend to portray popular fears, and it is only fairly recently that the racist elements of the Elevator Incident have become secondary for many modern listeners, who instead interpret it as an amusing brush with celebrity and largesse (i.e., having the room paid for and roses sent).

Some have debated whether this 1980s-vintage urban legend was the result of a sitcom joke (its structure certainly resembles one), or whether the legend itself inspired the sitcom. Both Brunvand and Mikkelson point to versions of this legend from previous decades, suggesting that the legend came before the well-known Bob Newhart episode. Indeed, according to Brunvand, one early version of this legend contains none of the racial elements and simply involves an elevator rider dropping to the floor when an authority figure on the elevator calls to his friend, Neil. This is the variant that figures into The Billionth Monkey, and is one of two reasons for our protagonist’s name (the second occurring here).

For Further Reading

Jan Harold Brunvand. “The Elevator Incident.” In Encyclopedia of Urban Legends (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001), 131–2.

Véronique Campion-Vincent. “Preaching Tolerance?Folklore 1995, 106: 21–30.

Barbara Mikkelson. “Hit the Floor.” February 13, 2015.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pages 166–172: Movie references

The dialogue on pages 166–172 of The Billionth Monkey references a host of popular/cult movies. Did you catch them all? As I wrote in a previous post, everyone I know quotes books, tv shows, movies, and song lyrics in normal conversation, and I wanted to make that part of how my characters interacted. Here are the film references in these seven pages:
  • I copy, Gold Leader: From the climactic assault on the Death Star in Star Wars (i.e. Episode IV: A New Hope , 1977).
  • Ich luge bullets: Spoken by J.D. (Christian Slater) in Heathers (1988):

  • There must always be two: Another Star Wars reference, to the Rule of Two.
  • You have to know these things when: A slightly modified version of the classic line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), uttered by Graham Chapman's King Arthur:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Page 170: The day that UFOs turned bad

I recall vividly the day that UFO culture changed in my eyes. It wasn’t a gradual shift in the zeitgeist, but a seismic event. One day aliens were benign scientists gathering data about our curious blue marble and the even more curious humans that inhabited it. Television characters like My Favorite Martian and The Great Gazoo from The Flintstones, the optimism of Star Trek, films like Close Encounters and ET, popular songs like Klaatu’s Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (famously covered by the Carpenters) and Yes’s Arriving UFO, and all the ancient astronaut books claiming that aliens had visited and helped manking through the ages: these popularized a benevolent image of UFOs throughout the 1960s and 1970s. When there was a UFO flap in my town, for days I watched the skies expectantly hoping to glimpse an alien visitor.

This comic from Close Encounters Studios sums up my feelings about nu-alien culture.
Then one day I opened my eyes to find we had rekindled the paranoia of earlier generations: the horrors of 1950s moviegoers, the hostile invaders of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (1897 for the book, 1929 for the radio play, 1953 for the movie, and 1978 for Jeff Wayne’s musical). For me, that day arrived with the April 1978 issue of Official UFO magazine, which purported to show photos of alien spacecraft destroying—and then reconstructing—the town of Chester, IL. For a young person, it was scary, exhilarating, and AWESOME. This paranoia paved the way for everything from scary-alien movies like ID4 to the whole grays-vs-black-slime-vs-bee-clone alien confusion that was The X-Files. And let us not forget Lord Kinbote.

The April 1978 issue of Official UFO was a game-changer for tween me.
The conversation on page 170 of The Billionth Monkey reflects my off-the-cuff perceptions about this time. Could this supposed change just be a reflection of a dewey-eyed tween’s loss of innocence, recognizing the scary alien trope that has always been there? Perhaps, but it seems that the tenor of conversations about UFOs definitely changed in those days from the scores of mass-market UFO paperbacks that had littered my bookshelves. While other people may have observed this shift at different times or places, Official UFO is when I first noticed it. I saved that magazine to this very day (the image above is a scan of my copy).

Monday, January 11, 2016

Page 166–7: Numerical Easter eggs, Lam, and Spacepeopleofwalmart

The Tweezer post on page 166 is a pun on the well-known humor website, “People of WalMart,”  but Destiny Jones’ version localizes it to the Roswell location. I also tucked a couple of numerical Easter eggs into her status update:
  • 280 (from 280 “likes”) = נכרי, alien.
  • 666 (from 5,666 followers) = Το Μεγα Θηριον, another shout-out to readers of Perdurabo.
The biggest Easter egg of all, however, is Destiny Jones’ note to herself: “Register” Once I wrote that gag, I knew that if I didn’t register the domain, someone else would. So I registered it…and thus took my first step down the rabbit hole of having micro-sites for various places in The Billionth Monkey. The site design is an alien-green version of the regular “People of...” site. Rather than hosting embarrassing photos of customers, my lampoon site obsesses over aliens who do their shopping at the Roswell store.

You’ll find plenty of jokes at the webpage. Here’s a breakdown of some of them:
  • “Aisle 51” is a reference to “Area 51.”
  • We get a virtual representation of the sporting goods manager, Simon. The photo is a pun on popular social media photos showing people posing with a gun and their chosen holy book. Note, too, the sly nod to Watchmen.
  • A couple of pharmacy references (read the scene to see why).
  • Jokes about asking aliens for their papers/certifications, playing on the double meaning of the word “alien” and America’s ongoing immigration debate.
  • How many times can you find the word “Lam” hidden in the story about the RV ET?
  • An ad for the Men in Black nightclub.
Spotted in the parking lot, license plate 4638 ABK.
The sporting goods dialogue about how big a gun Destiny Jones needs is in the style of classic Monty Python goofiness: think of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail about African vs. European swallows. When creating the Space People of Walmart gag site, I couldn’t resist taking it to the next level by turning it into one of those ubiquitous social media quizzes…except that the answer isn’t quite what you expect. (Yes, it makes a gun recommendation, but based on your answers it also guesses what cryptid you might be hunting.) Check it out and share it with your friends!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Page 163: Gematria, Cows, and UFOs

Destiny Jones’ Tweezer post on page 163 of The Billionth Monkey references the conspiracy theory that links UFO sightings to mysterious cattle mutilations. For details, check out Bill Ellis, “Cattle Mutilation: Contemporary Legends and Contemporary Mythologies,” Contemporary Legend 1991, 1: 39–80. Suffice to say, this is such a well-known trope that it was hilariously lampooned in the first episode of South Park, as seen in the following clip:
Unfortunately, the video linked above can't be embedded on other sites, but when you click on it you'll see a scene from the classic debut episode of South Park.
The Tweezer update, as with the others, contains a few numerological goodies:
  • 87 (from the number of “likes”) = לבנה, the moon…to which, in Western esoteric kabbalah, milk is attributed. This also references the old saying that the moon is made of cheese.
  • 385 (from 5,383 followers) = שפה, cheese.
  • 333 (from 3:33 pm) = ChVRVNZVN, Choronzon (repeated from an earlier post, this one is thrown in just for fun; no bearing on the content of the social media post)
And since we’re on the topic, every shop described on pages 164 and 165—The Alien Zone, Not of This World, Roswell Landing, International UFO Museum, Starchild—is real…except for the Crashdown Café. That one is a fictional location from the TV series Rowsell. Lovecraft often used the narrative technique of listing a couple of real things (say, books on magic) and then slipping in something wacky and fictional like The Necronomicon. For generations to come, people will chase around looking for it like it’s real. Hilarity ensues.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pages 157–161: The Comic Book Mega-Post

Stanley’s Marvelous Comics (like the Overlook Hotel) is a fictional place that exists only in the pages of The Billionth Monkey…and in a small corner of cyberspace. The name is an homage not only to Marvel Comics, but also to its legendary luminary, Stan “The Man” Lee. Our Stanley’s last name is Kerbie, which is a reference to the McCartney to Stan Lee’s Lennon: Jack “King” Kirby, the illustrator who co-created so many of Marvel’s legendary silver age characters.

The story of Stanley Kerbie’s comic book trove is a fictionalized composite of several well-known real-world troves. Well-preserved single-owner collections that contain golden age or early silver age rarities are a very special thing in the comic book world. You can read about a few examples here, here, and here.

As mentioned up top, Stanley’s Marvelous Comics is another fictional place in The Billionth Monkey that has its own micro-site. It shows off some goodies from the remains of my childhood collection. It would have been a trove today, but I sold the majority of that collection to the legendary Mile High Comics around 1984. It’s a nice piece of poetry that they were kind enough to let me use a photo of their store to represent Stanley’s Marvelous Comics online. The website is also a place that carries on the Hamlet Special Edition gag; I posted the pages of the comic on the website to help promote The Billionth Monkey (hence the joke that every purchase of the comic comes with a free novel). I should clarify that—contrary to what the website says—there is no full Hamlet book coming out for Christmas. This was another one of those darned Star Wars jokes…referencing how The Force Awakens changed the traditional May release date for the franchise to Christmastime. I have much more to say about the Hamlet comic book, but will save it for when we get to that point in the book…that is, at the end of this walkthrough.

From the moment that Marvel Comics #1 appeared on the cover of the 33rd Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, it symbolized for me the pinnacle of collecting…and I shamelessly carried my boyish enthusiasm into The Billionth Monkey. It wasn’t merely a gratuitous act, however: referencing this famous issue allowed Nicholas Young to flash back to the book’s prologue, thus playing a key role in his renewed sense of determination and purpose. This was such a pivotal moment in the book that I wanted to include the cover among the view disc images on The Billionth Monkey’s cover…but Marvel doesn’t allow its covers on the covers of non-Marvel publications, which I can understand. The low-res version here lets readers who are unfamiliar with this iconic cover to see it while hopefully remaining within the bounds of fair use.

Marvel Comics #1 © October 1939, Marvel.
[Cover by Frank Paul. Image source: Marvel Wikia]
Several other well-known and not-so-well-known covers in this scene serve to club readers over the head with repeated #DevilReferences. For those who are unfamiliar with them, here are low-res versions of the titles whose covers I describe in The Billionth Monkey:

John Constantine: Hellblazer #1, © January 1988, DC.
[Cover by Dave Mckean. Image source: DC Wikia]

Ghost Rider #1 © August 1972, Marvel
[Cover by Gil Kane, Joe Sinnott, and John Constanza. Image source: Wikipedia]

Hellboy trade paperback Seed of Destruction ©Dark Horse Comics
[By Mike Mignola and John Byrne. Image source: Wikipedia]

Marvel Spotlight #12 “From Hell He Came” © Oct 1973, Marvel
[Cover by Herb Trimpe. Image source: Marvel Wikia]

Marvel Spotlight #13 “When the Devil Stalks the Earth” © Jan 1974, Marvel
[Cover by John Romita. Image source: Marvel Wikia]

Son of Satan #1 “The Time Has Come, Father…” © December 1973, Marvel
[Cover by Gil Kane. Image source: Marvel Wikia]

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Page 156 twofer: Gematria and Gehenna

Tweezer Easter eggs
Destiny Jones’ tweeze “Less talk, more man-on-man action” conceals a few thematic Easter eggs in its numerology. In the time posted (6:45) we find the number 45, which is the value of אדם, Adam, the primordial man in Genesis. That references the word “man” in Destiny’ post. Expanding to “man-on-man action,” we find 104 followers, which is the number of סדם, Sodom.

Wooden nickels from hell
When Destiny counters the idiom “pennies from heaven” with “wooden nickels from hell,” she’s not just being clever. She’s also giving us another #DevilReference (or at least to the Devil’s vast real estate holdings).

The phrase “pennies from heaven”refers to the urban legend or folk belief that, shortly after someone close to you dies, you will find a penny in an unexpected place as a “sign” from the afterlife. Others interpret any time they find a coin somewhere as a sign that a higher power is watching over them. In its broadest meaning, the phrase simply refers to an unexpected boon or good fortune.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Page 156: A barrel of monkey puns

By page 156 in The Billionth Monkey, readers have been lulled into a false sense of security with a Shining homage (see here, there, this, that, the other thing, and, yes, here too) only to have the narrator sneak up and beat them over the head with a shameless barrage of #MonkeyReferences. Plus a couple of other goodies. Did you catch them all?
  • Estrus: According to sociobiology, the development of menstruation sets those primates apart from other mammals with an estrous cycle. Because this renders fertility/receptivity less obvious, in theory it significantly alters the dynamics of Parental Investment.
  • Mandrell: Homonym for “mandrill.”
  • Savanna: Several types of monkeys have evolved or adapted to living in savannas, including baboons, patas monkeys, vervet monkeys, and green monkeys.
  • Gibbons: The archetypal tree-swinging ape.
  • Simeon: Homonym for “simian.”
  • Nichols-Woking: Anglophile homonym/bad pun for “knuckle-walking.”
  • Chattered, howled, grunted: All terms for how different apes and monkeys communicate.
  • “O! I am Fortune’s fool!”: A Shakespeare quote, these are Romeo’s tragic words from Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1.
  • Central University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: See our earlier story on unfortunate university names (see here, and its reappearance on Wikibard).

Vervet monkey, by BimboDelux [Image source: Wikimedia Commons].

Monday, January 4, 2016

Page 155: REDЯUM

I wanted to wrap up The Billionth Monkey’s brief visit to the Overlook Hotel by referencing the most iconic reveal in Kubrick’s film adaptation of The Shining (1980). I’m not talking about the creepy twin girls: I’m referring to the scene where Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) looks in the mirror and realizes that Danny’s scrawled word “REDЯUM” is “murder” spelled backward. In our scene on page 155, the childish handwriting is the perfect device to solve Niels and Destiny’s dead-end by identifying the next destination in our chase story.
Danny Torrance (played by Danny Lloyd) expresses himself artistically in this iconic scene from The Shining (1980, dir. Stanley Kubrick, Warner Brothers).
Not to be confused with Propellerheads’ well-loved (and wittily-named) drum computer, Redrum:

Propellerheads’ Redrum drum computer [image course:]

Friday, January 1, 2016

Page 153: The world’s shortest novel mash-up

Happy 2016 everyone!

Destiny Jones’ reference to the world’s shortest novel (page 153) is a mash-up of two unrelated but well-known stories. But it kind of works.

First is the so-called world’s shortest (and saddest) story, attributed to Ernest Hemmingway. In only six words, we get the entire tale. “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”

The second part of the mash-up is a joke that goes like this:
Anxious relatives are gathered in a hospital waiting room when suddenly the doctor, grave and serious, walks in with news about their loved one.

“I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news,” he explains to the family, “but the only hope left for your relative is a brain transplant. Since the procedure is experimental, your insurance won’t cover the cost. You’ll have to pay for it yourselves.”

As the family pondered the troubling news, one of them finally inquired, “How much does a brain cost, anyway?”

“You have a choice,” the doctor replied. “A man’s brain will set you back $5,000, while a woman’s brain is only $200.”

The male relatives smirked while the ladies scowled.

One of the female relatives finally broke the awkward silence and asked, “Why does the man’s brain cost so much more?”

The doctor replied, “That’s because it’s never been used.”
“I see what you did there.”
[Image from The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962, dir Joseph Green, American International Pictures.]
As Rorschach says in The Watchmen, “Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.